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Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 06:08 GMT 07:08 UK

World: South Asia

Battle for power in India

Sonia Gandhi's single-party government plans have been challenged

A group of minor opposition parties in India has said it wants to be part of a new coalition government after the fall of the Hindu-nationalist BJP-led coalition.

Premen Addy, Editor of India Weekly: "A very confused and volatile situation"
The parties have also called for the leader of the Communist Party of India, Jyoti Basu, to be prime minister. He has so far been rejecting all advances.

The news is a setback for Mrs Gandhi, leader of the main opposition Congress Party, and widow of assassinated former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Mrs Gandhi has said she hopes to gather enough support to form a minority Congress government with only outside support from other parties, rather than lead a fresh coalition.

"Within two days we will bring letters of support (from other parties)," she said on Wednesday.

Mrs Gandhi was speaking after talks with President KR Narayanan, who is meeting various political leaders to see who has the best chance of forming a viable government.

'Hard to get'

But BBC South Asia Correspondent Mike Wooldridge says some of the small parties are playing hard to get.

The BBC's Mike Wooldridge: "Sonia Gandhi is n the driving seat"
"We will not blindly support any government," said Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party has 20 deputies in parliament.Mulayam Singh Yadav Mulayam Singh Yadav

Congress has control of just 145 seats in the 543-member lower house of parliament and would need assured support from a total of 272 for a majority.

One of the other main contenders still to see the president is the outgoing Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee; the coalition led by his Hindu nationalist BJP fell in a vote of confidence on Saturday.

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